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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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my cat who was a rescue cat is about 6/8 years old, and recently

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my cat who was a rescue cat is about 6/8 years old, and recently she has developed this strange habit of licking the artificial coal that is on our gas fire.
Dr. B. :

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner. If you would still like assistance, can you tell me:

Dr. B. :

How long has she had this behavior?

Dr. B. :

Are Megan's gums pale at all or nice rosy pink?

Dr. B. :

You noted she has been slowing down, would you say sleeping more, lethargic, breathing any quicker?

Dr. B. :

Have you ever seen her eat other odd items like dirt, cat litter, orany other non-food items?

Dr. B. :

Does she have any ongoing health issues? Any other signs like increased thirst, appetite, urination, or heart issues?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Megan has only been displaying this unusual behaviour for a few weeks, her gums are OK, but she has slowed down slightly, sleeping habits have not changed and breathing is normal, and she is still feisty when I clip her claws, She has not eaten other unusual substances - and Megan has no other medical problems that I am aware of as she was a rescue cat and the owner informed me that Megan had a clean bill of health, Cannot tell you how old Megan is, but I was informed by the rescue owner that Megan was 4 when I adopted her about 2 years ago, but I have always thought the Megan was older, I would say she is about 9 now or even older.

Thank you Alexandra,
Now the reason for my range of questions is because when we see cats lick or eat odd items, it can actually be a subtle sign of something being amiss with their health. If she were a younger cat, then we'd have to consider curiousity and odd behaviours dervived from this. Yet with Megan being an older cat and this sounding to be a compulsive out of character behavior, we do need consider potential health causes. Specifically, we can see cats lick odd items due to specific cravings associated with deficiencies derived from chronic parasite or worm burdens, imbalanced diets, or anemia. As well, we can see this behavior associated with lead poisoning (less likely an issue for a pet cat, hyperthyroidism (or tumour of the thyroid gland), cancer, kidney disease (secondary to the kidney disease induced anemia), or with some viruses like FIV, FeLV, or feline infectious peritonitis (again less likely if she is otherwise her normal self).
With all this in mind, it would be worth making sure her diet is a balanced one (if she is on anything but commercial cat food), worming and treating her for fleas if you have not done so in the past 4 weeks. If you try these and she doesn't settle in her interest for licking the coal (or if she starts on another odd item when she cannot reach the coal), then we'd want to consider a check up with her vet. If she is due a booster soon, you can move this up to get her seen sooner. They can examine her for any hints of sinister lumps or bumps. Depending on their findings, you may want to have them check a blood sample (which can rule out anemia, kidney disease, feline viruses, and thyroid disease). Based on the results of both, they can advise you which may be an issue here and guide you on how to address it effectively for Megan.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best, *****
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